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Black Legend

The Black Legend (in Spanish, leyenda negra) is the claim that Spain and the Spaniards were depicted as uniquely bloodthirsty, cruel, greedy and licentious, in excess of reality. This is contrasted with the White Legend ((in Spanish, leyenda rosa, which means pink legend), which promoted the view that the Spanish Empire did little other then bring the blessings of Christianity and civilization to heathen barbarous lands.


Historians who support the Black Legend interpretation claim that the Black Legend was a consequence of propaganda campaigns.

Some of the most damning support for the legend comes directly from Spaniards:

In 1552, the Dominican friar Bartolome de las Casas published "Short Account of the Destruction of the West Indies[?]" (Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias), an exaggerated account of the excesses happening during colonization of Hispaniola, in which he argued against the enslaving of American Indians[?], proposing that African Negroes[?] be carried instead. The book was extensively used by the Dutch during their independence war from Spain. In this way, some Dutch and English Protestants would have directed their hatred of Catholicism specifically at the Spanish, because Spain was the most important Catholic country of the period and waged wars against them (Spanish Armada, Dutch Independence War[?]).

Antonio Pérez[?] was a minister to the King of Spain. After falling in disgrace, he fleed to Europe where he published libels against the Spanish Monarchy.

The imprisonment and subsequent death of Don Carlos by his parent Philip II of Spain added to the legend. This event inspired an opera.

Also, the pope Alexander VI has become almost a mythical character, and countless legends and traditions are attached to his name.

In addition, the other European colonial powers, rivals of Spain, envied the Spanish Empire[?], the first in the history to include territories in all the inhabited continents, and the most powerful throughout the 16th and the 17th century.

This legend stemmed from a variety of sources, and by the early 18th century most of Europe had applied this stereotype to the Spaniards.

The United States of America would have inherited the Black Legend from the British colonization of the Americas. Some people feel that the United States mass media and government have propagated it to justify United States actions against Spain or Latin American countries, as in the Spanish-American War or in the colonization of Philippines after the Philippine-American War. We can still see evidence of the Black legend in modern literature and movies, as Amistad from Steven Spielberg.

Topics of the Black Legend

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